Becoming a dog owner for the first time can be a very exciting time in your life, the joy of adding a new furry member to your family should be something that will last a lifetime. However, just like having a baby there are some very definite guidelines that you will need to follow in order for your new family member to become a valued member of your household. One thing that you need to keep firmly fixed in your mind, no matter whether you are adopting a puppy or an older dog from the local shelter or rescue, is that there is no such thing as a bad dog.
The reasons for owning a dog vary widely from companionship to protection and the need for a service dog. No matter what the reason for adding this new member to your family, you need to realize that just like any other member of your family; he is entitled to the appropriate levels of nutrition, hygiene and exercise that any other member of your family receives. Far too many people think in terms of a dog being nothing more than a “Dog” and as such provide only the barest essentials of life.
If you want to have a pet that is going to be a valued member of your family, the first thing you need to realize is that he “is” a member of your family. Dogs are a pack animal; their natural instinct is to a part of a pack or family. When you bring a dog into your family, he needs to be able to think of your family as being his pack. It is your job to make sure that this happens if you want to have a pet that will be happy and healthy.
Your Basic Responsibilities
Not only are you responsible for your dog’s physical health, you are also responsible for his mental health. Feeding your dog and taking care of his basic hygiene needs are only a small part of the big picture. A perfect example of this is taking your dog for regular walks on a leash, while this is very important as a part of his exercise and health, a good walk is also vital for his mental well-being. A walk allows you to establish your role as the leader of the pack and your dog will learn to respect your position much more quickly this way.
You will also find that there are side benefits to regular walks that will help you to gain the respect of your puppy or dog and help him to maintain the proper balance in his life. A good walk will help him to burn off his excess energy that might otherwise result in overexcited behaviour in the house. This type of behavior is one of the biggest reason people do not keep the dog they have chosen. A walk will keep his muscles toned and just like a human being his cardiovascular system healthier giving him a much longer healthier life.
A Healthy Diet is Vital
As a puppy owner you are responsible for providing your dog with a healthy, well-balanced diet. One popular misconception among dog owners is that the only way you are going to be able to do this is to buy the most expensive brands of dog food on the market. The reality is a little less expensive; you need to spend a little time researching what each of the dog foods you are considering contains. Far too many brands, both the cheap ones the more expensive ones, contain additives that your dog does not need in his diet. You do not have to buy the most expensive dog foods to get a quality food that will meet your dog’s dietary needs.
While a dog is mostly carnivorous by nature, feeding your dog nothing but meat is no healthier for him than it would be for you. You should be looking for a dog food that is meat based, but includes grains and vegetables as well. Avoid foods that are mostly fillers as they are filled with empty carbohydrates in much the same way as processed foods and junk foods are in our diets. One thing that so many dog owners are guilty of is feeding their pets “people food”; while this is tempting it is not good for your dog’s health.
Providing Shelter and Beyond
Just like the rest of your family, your dog needs to be provided with shelter from the elements and to keep him safe. If you have a large breed dog that is going to spend a large portion of his life outside, you need to provide him with a safe place to live. This should include a large fenced in yard or run to keep him safe from harm and running away and a dog house or kennel that will give him shelter from the elements.
Taking on the responsibility of owning a dog can be a wonderful experience for both your family and your new furry friend. If you take the time to learn more about your puppy and what he needs to lead a healthy and balanced life, you will enjoy years of faithful companionship. Remember he will look to you for leadership as well as providing him with what he needs to be happy and healthy and that you are now his pack and he will become the perfect companion.